How To Get Readonly Mode In Django

18 May 2014

Last week, I came across an interesting problem at work. The problem was:

To get read only users in a Django based application.

But doing so was not very simple because there is no read only mode for users in Django. In order to solve this, I first started reading answers on stack overflow. Some of those links did pointed me to a correct route. Here, I will document the whole process so that it could help others and serve as a reminder for me as well.

First of all, the whole system of authentication in any system originates from permissions. The basis permissions are. Read, Write, Execute. in Unix (chmod is used to set permissions).

Django has a cool way of adding the permissions in the meta class. Let’s say we have a model class named Cars.

class Cars(model.Model):
  name = models.Charfield()
  year = models.DateField()

  class Meta:
    permissions  = (
      ('readonly', 'Can Read Only Cars')
    )

Just like this, Any permission could be added to the Model. Now in order to get these permissions in the database. You need to run syncdb management command.

python manage.py syncdb --all

So this just sets the background in place. The real job is getting this permissions to work.

Now, I began to wonder what all things were required to develop this complete functionality ?

The first thing that came to my mind naturally was to override templates and hack ground admin.py.

So, I created a new class in Admin.py that was inherited from the admin class I was earlier using:

from model import Cars


class CarAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    date_hierarchy = 'date'
    list_filter = ('status', 'event_instance',)
    actions = ['accept', 'reject', 'pending']

class ReadonlyCarAdmin(CarAdmin):
    def __init__(self, model, admin_site):
      super(ReadonlyCarAdmin, self).__init__(model, admin_site)
      self.model = model

    def has_delete_permission(self, request, obj=None):
      if request.user.has_perm('car.readonly') and not
      request.user.is_superuser:
        return False
      else:
        return True

    def has_add_permission(self, request, obj=None):
      if request.user.has_perm('car.readonly') and not
      request.user.is_superuser:
        return False
      else:
        return True

     def has_change_permission(self, request, obj=None):
        if request.user.is_superuser:
            self.readonly_fields = () # make sure to remove caching.
            return True
        elif request.user.has_perm('car.readonly'):
            # make the fields readonly for only users with readonly permissions.
            self.readonly_fields = [field.name for field in filter(lambda f: not f.auto_created, self.model._meta.fields)]
            return True
        else:
            return False


     def get_actions(self, request):
        actions = super(ReadOnlyCarAdmin, self).get_actions(request)
        if request.user.has_perm('car.readonly') and not request.user.is_superuser:
            # This ensures that that user doesn't not have any actions
            if 'delete_selected' in actions:
                del actions['delete_selected']
                del actions['accept']
                del actions['reject']
                del actions['pending']
            return actions
        else:
            return actions


admin_site.register(Car, ReadonlyCarAdmin)

Okay, so now we have a robust system in place to ensure whichever user has readonly permission on Cars Model would only be able to see the model data in Readonly mode.

But this is not it. Here is the part where templates are overridden.

First of all save and cancel button on buttom needs to go as we don’t need them.

For that, create a new template in templates folder.The templates name is ` change_form.html. Hence the full pathname is carapp/templates/admin/change_form.html`.

Copy the content from the default django template (/admin/change_form.html) in django project add replace this content with this gist:

This will ensure that the selected user with this readonly only permissions won’t be able get the submit button on his admin page.

Now, you have a fully functioning Django Admin with readonly mode. The main effort was to make it very easy to use and ensure that this feature could run across future versions.

Hope this post help anyone else who has to implement something similar.

Tweet me @https://twitter.com/vinitkme if you like this post.

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